Wednesday, February 11, 2015

First Kiss #25

TITLE: Beyond the Tangle Trees
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Sci-Fi

Kenton's hurtling through space with his sister and several female friends. His feelings for one of his friends intensify and he has no guys to talk to. Ultimately, they kiss:

“I wondered what to get you for your birthday.”

Kenton had completely forgotten he was having a birthday. Too many things had happened since he ate his cake. Didn’t someone say the cake was baked with a chemical reaction? Was that what was wrong with his stomach?

“I was trying so hard to be okay with you kissing Spryte.”

Did she say she was jealous? Kenton’s full attention was on her. The thing in his stomach and throat even stopped moving to listen to her next words. He was afraid to blink for missing anything, but his eyes were so dry he couldn’t keep them open. The second they closed, she moved over to him.

He smelled her, so like home, yet more exotic. Her arms were around him. Her warm body pressed against his. He still held Andy with both hands. Kenton couldn’t move for her closeness. He wanted to wrap his arms around her, but was paralyzed by her nearness.

“Happy birthday.” Her breath tickled his lips. And then their lips met and he tasted the cake on her as if he’d eaten another bite. This last bite was made all the sweeter because it was delivered by her and everything he’d imagined was happening.

Kenton opened his eyes. “That’s the best present I’ve ever had.” He wished he could bite off his own tongue for saying something so sappy.

She giggled. “Don’t get used to that. I don’t go around kissing boys who kiss my friends.”


  1. You had me until he wanted to bite off his own tongue which made me think ICK. I think a little more of a physical reaction would make the scene more intense. More what he is feeling and not what he is thinking.

  2. Disclaimer: Upper Middle-grade kissing scenes are NOT my forte, so I may be the wrong person to do this crit, but hey, I chose to do the multiples of five, so . . .

    A. Much love for the premise. I would read this book, and then I'd hand it over to my two older sons (12 and 14).

    B. I have no idea what is this girl's name, and that BOTHERS me. Her name isn't used in eight paragraphs. I need her name.

    Birthday vortex? Check. Sort of bizarre leap from presents to kissing someone else. Little jarring, but I think perhaps it wouldn't be as jarring if I had a bigger context with which to work. Also, I'd like it if she expounded a bit on WHY she wasn't okay with him kissing Spryte. He immediately jumps to jealousy (which she does NOT mention, Kenton), but she could be angry because she thinks he's not good enough for her friend, or she doesn't think her friend is old enough to be kissed, or any number of reasons other than her own jealousy.

    I disagree with Julie (sometimes I do) on the mental over-analysis. It's sci-fi. Let's get those thoughts a-ticking, and besides he's a tween boy, so his brain is a funny mush right now, and I don't want to KNOW about his physical reactions. Oooo, but tasting the cake on her is nice!

    I do agree, however, about the biting off of tongues being ick. Because, ick. Because sudden images of blood and self-defense classes, or seizures, or other BAD THINGS.

    Hope this was quality critiquing!

  3. First of all, I really like the premise of this and I love upper middle-grade books but I feel it can be hard to get the romance and kissing right in them. There might be more lead up to this scene and the kiss than I get to see with this snippet, but it seems a little rushed, with middle-grade you don't need too many descriptions of kissing, but I'd maybe add just a little more to the scene? Just a little bit about how the kiss made him feel beyond it being the best present he's ever had.

    This is my first time critiquing here so I hope this is helpful!